RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli colonization factor types collected from 1997 to 2001 in US military personnel during operation Bright Star in northern Egypt.

Operation Bright Star (OBS) is a biennial, multinational exercise in Egypt involving 15000 US troops. Consistent with past observations in deployed troops, diarrhea is the most significant cause of morbidity. Focused efforts are ongoing to develop vaccines against the most common pathogens affecting our troops. As part of these efforts, diarrhea surveillance was conducted during OBS to monitor pathogens associated with illness and to identify new vaccine targets. A retrospective review was conducted of prior studies with similar methods. Soldiers with diarrhea presenting to the OBS clinic provided a stool sample that was inoculated into Carey-Blair transport media. Within 3 days, the Cary-Blair tubes were transported to the Naval Medical Research Unit no. 3 in Cairo where bacterial culture was performed. As part of the evaluation, 5 Escherichia coli-like colonies were collected and tested for toxin production using the GM1-ELISA. Toxin-positive isolates were further tested for colonization factors (CF) by a dot-blot assay using a standardized panel of monoclonal antibodies against CFA/I, CS1-CS7, CS17, CS8 (CFA/III), CS12 (PCFO159), and CS14 (PCFO166). Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) was the most frequently isolated pathogen during each OBS from which data were collected. The rate of ETEC-associated diarrhea ranged from 22% to 58%. Over time, there were dramatic shifts in the frequency and distribution of CFs. Over the 5 years of study, an increasing number of ETEC isolates had no known CF identified, and in 2001, only 40% of ETEC was associated with known CFs. The most commonly identified CF was CS6. Diarrheal disease, particularly ETEC, continues to be a common malady among US military personnel deployed to Egypt. We have identified ETEC CF types, especially CS6, which should be considered potential vaccine candidates. However, despite intensive testing, CFs could not be identified in most of the ETEC isolated, highlighting the need for further studies to identify novel CFs and alternative vaccine targets.

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